Inspiration comes in strange ways. Two weeks ago at Mass, I arrived to find our great big sanctuary packed with people of all ages, including the school kids from next door -- it turns out they were doing the readings for Mass.
All the kids were well prepared, but the first little girl (who could not have been more than seven) was the best. She approached the microphone with confidence, and began to read, plenty loud and clear as a bell.
"After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree..." Very singsong-y and dutiful, the way little kids speak. Her reading continued, complete with animation and voices for the different characters:
God (stern and booming): "Where ARE you?"
Adam (busted): "I heard you in the garden! But I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself!"
God (like one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff): "Who told you that you were naked?"
And she went on like that, nailing every word and inflection, making the story spring to life.
In an otherwise silent church, I looked around to find I was the only one suppressing laughter or even smiling -- not out of derision but out of joy and surprise. In all my life, I don't think I had ever heard a lector who was so all in. She read as though it mattered, and that made all the difference.
So it is with us and our work. When we forget that what we do matters, and how we do it matters even more, we miss opportunities to inspire those around us. We miss opportunities to be inspired.
This reminds me of a great line I once heard from a saxophonist named Ray Silkman: "What comes from the heart reaches the heart."
In that spirit, let's take even one of our ordinary tasks this week -- whether it's wrapping, baking, cleaning or filing -- and infuse it with a little more heart and creativity. Even if it's just lighting a candle while we work or putting on some music.
Let's see how much we can inspire those around us, or even just ourselves.